Sunday, April 22, 2012

Oconee County Commissioners Scheduled to Discuss Intergovernmental Agreement for Caterpillar Plant Site

Costs/Revenues Shared

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night is set to discuss a proposed intergovernmental agreement with Athens-Clarke County that would split evenly both the costs and revenues from the Caterpillar project.

The agreement on how to share the costs and revenues for the Caterpillar project is an appendix to a general agreement that specifies that the two counties will work together to develop the Orkin site, which straddles the county line and includes the property to be used by Caterpillar for its new manufacturing plant.
The appendix relating to Caterpillar specifies that the maximum financial obligation of the two counties is $2.1 million for water and sewer improvements, $5.4 million for roadway improvements and $10.1 million for property and easement acquisition.

Entrance on Atlanta Highway

“Each county shall pay one-half of the total costs of such undertakings,” according to the agreement, sent to me yesterday morning by Oconee County Administrative Officer Alan Theriault in response to a request I sent him Friday evening.

County Clerk Gina Lindsey released the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting on Friday afternoon. County Attorney Daniel Haygood is scheduled to present the intergovernmental agreement to the commissioners.

Some Costs Passed On

In addition to the $17.6 million in costs for water and sewer, roadway improvements and the property, the agreement states that not more than $800,000 will be needed for water and sewer lines to be installed within the roadways for the Caterpillar project.

The roadway off the Atlanta Highway is two-lanes wide and abuts property that is not part of the Caterpillar project. The other entrance is off U.S. 78 and across property that is not part of the Caterpillar site.

This $800,000 cost will be passed on to future users who develop land along those roadways, the agreement states.

The $17.6 million also does not include additional roadway and intersection infrastructure costs that the two counties “anticipate” the Georgia Department of Transportation will fund in part, according to the agreement.

Since the entrances to the Caterpillar site will be in Clarke County, that county will take lead in seeking GDOT funding, the agreement states.

Oconee County has sold general revenue bonds of $10.4 million to fund its portion of the costs of the project.

The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County also has sold revenue bonds for its contribution.

Most Taxes Abated

The intergovernmental agreement states that taxes and fees generated by the project will be used to cover costs where possible, and those taxes and fee receipts “shall be equally divided between the Counties for the duration of the Agreement.”

The site, building and equipment in the Caterpillar plant will be owned by the development authorities of the two counties. Only the leases will be taxed, and then at a reduced rate for up to 30 years.

The larger intergovernmental agreement and the appendix dealing with the Caterpillar project will run for 50 years.

The general agreement covers the 838 Orkin tract, which is north of SR 316 and west of U.S. 78 running to and including parts of Bogart, which also straddles the county line.

The agreement states that the two governments will provide water and sewer to customers on the site based on their ability to deliver those services. Net revenue from the provision of these services will be shared equally by the two counties.

The Orkin Tract agreement also says that the counties are working on an overlay district for the Orkin tract that will provide for consistent development regulations.

The counties also will agree, if they approve the document, to share tax and other revenue generated on the Orkin tract.

School Taxes Separated

The agreement does not include taxes for school districts, state property taxes and taxes earmarked to pay off county indebtedness.

The appendix dealing with the Caterpillar project stipulates that Oconee County will provide the bulk of sewer service to the plant as long as it has capacity. Also, a sewer line already in place in Clarke County will continue to be used.

Athens-Clarke County will provide water in the initial phase of the project. The counties will share water and sewer revenues.

Athens-Clarke County will be the permitting and inspecting entity for land disturbance activities. Parts of the plan reviews will be handled by Oconee County, and other parts will be handled in Clarke County.

Permit issuance will be the responsibility of Oconee County, and on-site inspections will be split between the counties, as will documentation reviews.

The counties will have joint responsibility for the certificate of occupancy.

Government employees will keep records of their time and be reimbursed accordingly. Athens-Clarke County will be disbursing agent.

Wayne Provost, director of Strategic and Long-Range Planning in Oconee County, will be the liaison staff member for the project, with the costs of his work shared by the two counties.

The two counties will provide emergency services jointly. In emergency situations, they will ignore county borders.

Land Purchased in March

The Public Information Office of Athens-Clarke County is responsible for developing and implementing a key employee recruitment program for Caterpillar. The costs of the operation will be shared by the two counties.

The development authorities of the two counties purchased the tract for the Caterpillar plant on March 6, according to copies of the deeds that Haygood has provided to me.

The Oconee County development authority purchased 120.4 acres from the Orkin family, and the Clarke County development authority purchased 142.2 acres from the Orkins. The total purchase price was $9.2 million, according to Haygood.

In addition, the Clarke County development authority purchased 2.4 acres from Martha Clark, according to the deed. Haygood said the purchase price was $175,000.

The work on the Caterpillar site remains largely hidden from public view at present. An entrance on the Atlanta Highway is marked by a simple sign.

It is possible to see evidence of the grading work already completed through the trees from Pine Valley Road in Bogart, which parallels the site.

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the courthouse in Watkinville.

1 comment:

Beanne said...

It is interesting that the counties often complain about UGA being exempt from property taxes. Yet, they do this deal that exempts this private corporation from the same. May need to remind them of that.